After 20 years since the release of Snatch, Guy Ritchie returns to his coined style of filmmaking: numerous characters, numerous plotlines and numerous crimes committed in the span of just two hours. From the very first scene, The Gentlemen grabs the viewers’ interest and does not let go until the very end. This film is as close as it gets to Guy Ritchie’s well-known and well-loved style. However, it is not only the plot that keeps the audience hooked but also the eccentric and slightly offbeat characters, which one cannot help but follow.
The Gentlemen is a story about not-so-gentle men with guns, as narrated by Fletcher (Hugh Grant). Cunning and unscrupulous, Fletcher is a private investigator who has managed to dig up a gold mine of… marijuana farms. Underground and spread all over the UK, this empire is run by Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) and his right-hand-man Ray (Charlie Hunnam). Fletcher throws the script on the table (unsurprisingly, titled “BUSH”) and boasts about knowing all about these underground operations, blackmailing Ray. For his rigorous work in piecing all of the events together, Fletcher wants £20 million or he would send the script to a newspaper, uncovering all of the truth.
However, the story is far from just that. In the best Ritchie fashion, numerous characters are weaved into the plot, each with their own place and purpose. It is a film that certainly allows its characters to shine: be it the cool-headed and cunning businessman Matthew (Jeremy Strong), his Chinese rival “Dry Eye” (Henry Golding) or perhaps, the eccentric boxing coach (Colin Farell). The male characters outnumber the female characters six to one. Michelle Dockery plays Mickey’s wife Rosalind, who runs an auto body shop with only women mechanics.
It is a fun, fast-paced film that often feels surreal — the narration of Fletcher provides the benefit of the doubt. Although mostly consistent in its time-line of events, there are times when the narrative takes a tangent. In essence, The Gentlemen is a script within a script — Fletcher even takes it to Miramax, the actual production company of the film. By the end, it is only natural to wonder whether this story is truthful or received certain embellishments from its narrator. With numerous twists and turns, the plot keeps one hooked on the action until the very last second.
The Gentlemen does not exactly boast being progressive and while the film itself is not racist, some of its characters are. Some viewers may leave the theatres disappointed by the characters’ insensitivity, while others will enjoy the criminal intrigue, driven by every single character onscreen. Even though Matthew McConaughey and Charlie Hunnam are at the forefront, it is the eccentric Fletcher and Coach that make the film so much more entertaining. Certainly, it is a movie that is not to be taken too seriously, but rather to be laughed at and enjoyed.
The Gentlemen is neither a cinematic masterpiece and nor does it strive to be one. However, after Ritchie’s long break from his true style, it is definitely a pleasant surprise to see something so similar to Snatch and yet so unique on the big screens once again.
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